Reaching Higher!

By J&C Team

Teaching isn’t all about children. You can also pass your knowledge on to older and mature students in further and higher education!

Young adults in England are now obliged to continue their education in some form – either full-time, part-time or as an apprentice or trainee – until they’re 18. This expansion of the further- and higher-education sector means there are plenty of teaching roles available. As well as older teenagers continuing their education, you may teach mature students who have returned to education.

Further Education

There are currently 2.2 million students studying at 288 colleges in England, which includes further-education institutions, sixth-form colleges, art, design and performing arts and agricultural establishments, as well as specialist colleges. 

Further education is a huge area, providing academic, vocational and professional courses in diverse settings, including youth offender institutes and the armed forces. Many colleges and training institutions teach a wide variety of students with a range of ages, abilities and backgrounds, making this a sector where skills are truly transferable. There are opportunities to teach across different qualification levels and types, either during the day or in the evening.

Many vocational FE teaching jobs offer flexible and part-time hours, so you can fit teaching around another career. This is a bonus for the students, too, as it means your experience is up to date. If you enjoy working with young adults and are looking for high levels of job satisfaction, further-education teaching is a great choice.


In recent years, the government has committed to getting young people into the workplace through vocational training such as apprenticeships, NVQs and QCF qualifications. This has increased the need for assessors with “occupational competence” in the subject, and the teaching skills to encourage and mentor learners through their training programme.

An assessor supports and assesses students working towards a vocational qualification within a college, training centre or workplace. It’s the assessor’s job to ensure trainees meet the occupational standards required to achieve their qualifications. The majority of these positions also involve teaching.

What qualifications do I need? To work as an assessor you first need to prove you have the relevant occupational competence, which includes having recent experience within the role you’re looking to assess, as well as having a Level 3 qualification within the required subject area.

To be considered fully qualified to assess NVQ candidates, you’ll need a Level 3 certificate in assessing vocational achievement (CAVA). This will qualify you to carry out both competency- and knowledge-based assessments, allowing you to support a student throughout their NVQ, both in the workplace and in college-based settings.

How much can I earn? Full-time assessors can expect to start on a salary of between £18,000 and £25,000 a year. With experience and additional responsibilities, this could increase to £30,000 a year.

Further Education Lecturer

As well as offering traditional academic subjects such as maths, English and the sciences, further-education establishments are the place where students can learn vocational courses. These will train people for careers such as catering, construction or childcare, and often lead to qualifications such as City & Guilds or BTECs.

As a lecturer, you’ll be responsible for acting as a personal tutor to students, supervising practical work – including work placements and field trips – and keeping learning records, as well as planning lessons. In order to teach a vocation, you’ll need experience in that particular field and you’ll be expected to hold a minimum of a Level 3 qualification in the subject area. You’ll also need a teaching qualification relevant to the level of teaching responsibility you’ll have in your job.

What qualifications do I need? The Level 3 award in education and training is a short introductory course that lasts approximately 10 weeks part-time, and is designed for those just starting out in teaching or thinking about working in further education. It covers understanding teaching roles, as well as different learning and assessment methods.

If you wish to teach an academic subject, you’ll need a degree.

How much can I earn? Salaries start at £24,000; with more experience you can earn more than £36,000. Lecturers in leadership and management roles can earn between £40,000 and £80,000.

Prison Instructor

In this role you’ll help prisoners to gain skills so they can find employment after their release. You’ll need to be someone who can build good relationships and trust with people who may be resistant to help, as well as being able to manage challenging behaviour.

You’ll work in the prison, either indoors in small factories, workshops or classrooms, or outdoors if you’re teaching farming or horticultural skills. It will be up to you to find out the skills and training needs of each prisoner and teach them accordingly, coming up with a teaching plan and updating individualised learning records.

What qualifications do I need? You’ll need a recognised teaching qualification or be willing to work towards one, and have experience and at least a Level 3 vocational qualification in the subject or trade you are teaching.

How much can I earn? Salaries start around £20,000, which will increase to £25,000 with more experience. Qualified teachers can earn around £31,000.


With more than 2.28 million students studying at the UK’s higher-education institutions in 2015/16, there are plenty of roles needed to keep universities’ wheels turning. In fact, according to Universities UK, more than 410,000 staff were employed in higher education in the same academic year, both in academic and non-academic roles.

From lecturing, academic research and cooking up a banquet to marketing and planting the college grounds, opportunities abound.

Teaching Roles

The first thing people think about when working for a university is teaching, or lecturing.

A university lecturer is someone who teaches academic subjects to undergraduate or postgraduate students aged 18 or above. A key part of the job is delivering lectures and seminars, as well as taking tutorials and supporting students.

Lecturers are also expected to undertake research projects and publish in books or scholarly journals as a way of increasing their knowledge and raising the profile of the establishment in which they work.

Other tasks include marking exams, preparing teaching materials, assessing coursework, supervising students’ research, managing other staff and participating in conferences. 

Universities also employ people in academic research. These positions become available as and when a project needs team members, and often rely on grants for funding.

Research can be in any field and usually involves discovering something new – such as in the field of medicine – or developing new technology. You’ll need to publish your results in academic journals and attend corporate events, as well as possibly supervise research students.

What qualifications do I need? To be a lecturer you’ll need a first or 2:1 degree in the area you want to teach, a PhD in a relevant subject, as well as teaching experience and original research for publication.

Academic researchers require a master’s or PhD in the subject area and experience within that field, plus good time-management and organisational skills.

How much can I earn? Lecturer salaries start at £33,000 to £58,000, while academic researchers can earn from around £30,000.

Administrative Roles

All good businesses require excellent staff behind the scenes, and universities are no different. There are many administrative roles available, such as health and safety assistant, library services assistant, finance administrator, support secretary, receptionist, student support adviser and careers adviser, as well as plenty of opportunities in human resources. Strong communication skills are key, as are super-efficient organisational abilities.

What qualifications do I need? The exact requirements depend on the role. A finance administrator, for example, will require A-levels, an AAT accounting qualification and experience in using accounting systems. A careers adviser needs experience in careers coaching and client relationship building. If you want to work in library services, GCSE qualifications are a must, along with good organisational skills.

How much can I earn? Again, salary depends on the job at hand. A finance administrator can expect to earn a starting salary of £25,000 to £30,000; a careers adviser, £25,000 to £35,000; and those in library services, £16,000 to £25,000.

Technical and Laboratory roles

In the science field, researchers need staff such as technicians and laboratory assistants to help them in their work.

As a technician you may prepare materials for practical classes, provide technical support to students and manage equipment and resources. You’ll also work as part of the team that’s leading research, and may get the chance to take part too.

Lab assistants may be expected to sterilise glassware, collect and organise lab supplies and carry out maintenance tasks, including care of equipment.

What qualifications do I need? Technicians should be educated to at least GCSE-level. Experience in the subject area, good communication skills, a high level of awareness of health and safety and an ability to work as part of a team are also highly valued.

Lab assistants are usually required to have previous lab experience, the ability to carry out routine and repetitive tasks, knowledge of how to use databases and spreadsheets, as well as good organisational and team skills.

How much can I earn? Technicians start at around £15,000  but can earn more than £30,000; lab assistants earn £20,000-plus.

Maintenance roles

A university can’t run on academic staff alone. Buildings – some of which are hundreds of years old – need maintaining, grounds need planting, clearing and mowing, pitches need maintaining, and staff and students need feeding.

Other crucial roles include marketing and events management. For the latter, a good skillset includes managing social media, planning and overseeing advertising campaigns, budgeting and creating brand identity.

What qualifications do I need?

For marketing roles, previous marketing experience and good communication skills are key. In catering, a previous role in a hotel or restaurant will be useful, as well as a creative talent for cooking.

If you would like to try your hand at being a groundsperson, an NVQ Level 2 in horticulture is a good start. For housekeeper, experience in a similar role is usually required.

How much can I earn? Salaries start around £16,000 for entry-level roles in many departments, increasing with experience.

FE entry requirement

Since September 2013, there has been no requirement for formal qualifications to teach in further-education institutions. But having a good qualification under your belt will always help you to get on.

You can train on the job – gaining a teaching qualification while you working – which takes around two years. Or you can train before you start, completing a one-year course in the subject you want to teach, which will include a supervised placement in a further education college.